How policy resolutions to Labour Party conference work

A lot of people have asked us about this. So, a short guide…

The deadline for submitting rule changes (constitutional amendments) to Labour Party conference passed on 7 July. Those rule changes will be heard next year unless they are ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee or the NEC bumps them up so they are heard this year. However, CLPs that have not submitted a rule change can still submit a “contemporary resolution” (policy motion).

1. Each CLP can submit ONE policy “contemporary resolution” to send to Labour Party conference, as long as they have not already submitted a rule change this year.
2. Contemporary resolutions can be submitted from 3 August and need to refer to events that take place after 3 August, but obviously they can deal with more general things as well.
3. The deadline for submission will be 14 September.
4. The word limit for the text is 250 (and for the title 10).
5. At the conference, delegates will prioritise certain areas for debate and voting. The more CLP that submit the same or very similar resolutions, the more likely that area will be picked – and the more likely the motions will not be watered down by administrators when “composited” (put together) with other resolutions. Obviously having reliable left-wing delegates to go into the compositing meeting/s helps too.

The Clarion will be producing model contemporary resolutions on a variety of topics. For some left-wing contemporary resolutions produced last year, to give you a general idea, see here.

More below. If you have any queries about this or need help, get in touch: or ring 07796 690 874.


And a bit more explanation…

Since anti-democratic Blairite reforms in the 1990s, policy is submitted under the form of “contemporary resolutions”. The “contemporary” bit means that the resolution must relate/refer to something that has happened in the world after the start of August (this year, 2017, 1 August). Yes, that’s ridiculous – but it’s how it is until we change the rules (which the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy is attempting to do through a rule change they are promoting). It doesn’t mean the motion can’t establish more general policy as well.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is quite shortly before the conference, typically mid-late September (this year, 2017, 14 September).

There is obviously a problem there, namely that many Constituency Labour Parties do not meet in August and some will not meet till after the September deadline. So you need to ensure you have a meeting in the relevant period, or do something like empowering your CLP executive/conference delegates to submit a resolution (maybe giving them some guidance on topic, general line, etc).

Each CLP can submit one contemporary resolution – unless it has already submitted a change to the party rules/constitution (yes, that’s a ridiculous limitation too – another one CLPD are trying to change). The deadline for rule changes passed on 7 July, so you should be able to find out if your CLP submitted one fairly easily.

Titles can be up to 10 words and the body of the motion up to 250 words.

In the past many contemporary resolutions have been ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee with the claim that they are not really contemporary (or some other grounds, or sometimes no grounds at all). In 2015 and 2016, after Jeremy Corbyn’s election, fewer were ruled out. This year, we’ll see. The more CLPs submit a given resolution, of course, the harder it will be to rule out.

The deadline for appealing against the ruling out of contemporary resolutions is 20 September.

At the conference there will be a ballot of unions and CLPs, with both groups choosing four topic areas to be prioritised and given time for debate – up to eight in total.

Motions on the same topic are “composited” together – with the quality of the outcome depending on how many CLPs have submitted what and how forceful their representatives are in the compositing meeting – and how willing to resist pressure from right-wing party officials.

There are many hurdles to getting policy submitted, let alone discussed and voted on, let alone passed. But they are clearable – particularly if there is a big drive on a particular issue.

Lastly, it is also possible to submit emergency motions, which must be submitted by 22 September at noon.

• For more on all this see this Campaign for Labour Party Democracy briefing from 2012.

If you have any queries about this or need help, get in touch: or ring 07796 690 874.


  1. Conference 2017 – Timetable

    Delegate applications opened | Tuesday 31 January 2017
    Closing date for delegate applications | Friday 7 July 2017
    Nominations close for candidates for the elections to the NCC and CAC | Friday 7 July 2017 – 5pm
    Constitutional amendments close | Friday 7 July 2017 – 5pm
    Invitations to submit a contemporary motion open | Tuesday 1 August 2017
    Closing date for contemporary motions | Thursday 14 September 2017
    Contemporary motion appeals | By Wednesday 20 September 2017
    Emergency motions | Friday 22 September 2017 at 12 Noon

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